Maine white water rafting outfitters take thrill seekers to the three Kennebec, Penobscot and Dead Rivers. Even during droughts, white water rafting in Maine promises class I-V rapids with thanks to daily dam releases as well as routine high level dam releases every few weeks. Maine is the only state in the North East that offers a great rafting experience due to this feature.
As for lodging, you can find campsites in the area or choose from lodges, private homes to log cabins and cottages in the woods or by the river. Many white water rafting outfitters usually offer all the lodging options your heart desires. White water rafting season is from May to mid-October–start planning your rafting trip in Maine here!
Here we provide white water rafting companies in Maine as well as lodging properties that include rafting packages with local outfitters. Many white water rafting centers offer campsites and lodgings, while some even include amenities like a hot tub and pub.
Whitewater Rafting Companies in Maine
North Country Rivers, Bingham, Maine 1-800-343-8871
Professional River Runners, West Forks, Maine 04985
Three Rivers Rafting, West Forks, Maine 04985
Windfall Outdoor Center, Jackman, Maine 04945
Crab Apple Whitewater, The Forks, Maine 04985, 800-553-7238,
Magic Falls Rafting Company, West Forks, Maine 04985, 207-663-2220, 800-207-7238
Moxie Outdoor Adventures, The Forks, Maine 04985
New England Outdoor Center, Millinocket, Maine 04962, 800-766-7238
Northern Outdoors l 1771 US Route 201, The Forks, Maine 04965. 800-765-7238
More About White Water Rafting in Maine
White water rafting in Maine is an adventure and an experience you will never forget. Anyone with an appetite for the outdoors will enjoy a rafting trip in Maine. In fact, Maine is known all over for its plentiful dam released water, breathtaking scenery along your raft trip and great Maine guides.
While some may be hesitant to the idea of white water rafting, it’s an activity for a wide range of ages as young as 8 and as seasoned as 75 years old, with very little physical fitness requirements and no prior experience rafting necessary. It’s the ultimate theme park ride brought to you, compliments of Mother Nature and your adventuresome outfitter guides.
Maine white water rafting companies offer trips on the Kennebec, Penobscot and Dead Rivers. Thanks to daily hydropower dam releases, Maine is the only state in the Northeast that can guarantee water levels even during the driest of summers. You can find annual schedules of high water dam releases, which usually occur on weekends so you can plan the ultimate white water rafting experience. The season for white water rafting in Maine begins May 1st and continues to mid-October. Maine Rafting Outfitters provide a variety of outdoor adventures including overnight camping and white water rafting trips, kayaking, canoeing, rock climbing, guided hikes, mountain biking and fishing.
Rafting Outfitters and Lodging
The experience of white water rafting the calm to Class V rivers in Maine has come a long way in recent years, from rustic to resort-like. Not too long ago, going rafting in Maine meant camping out in the great outdoors. A great experience mind you, as there is nothing quite like that campfire camaraderie. And today’s rafters can still choose to campout in a tent by the river. But now, they can also choose from a cabin, select from fine Bed and Breakfasts, wilderness lodges, private homes, log cabins and river resort settings.
Many Maine white water rafting companies offer all-inclusive lodging and rafting packages, so your rafting, equipment, and lodging is included, even meals, with your rafting outfitter. Day trips, weekend and weeklong rafting trips are all available. It’s normally easier to take up lodgings with your rafting outfitter, however, there are plenty of cabins you can rent and inns near your rafting center.
Your best bet for lodging is to look in regions including Kennebec Moose River Valley, Moosehead Lake and Katahdin Region. Most rafting companies are located in Millinocket, Greenville, The Forks and Bingham.
Overview of the Rafting Trip
A Maine white water rafting vacation is the one time where “raging rapids” are cause for pure excitement. The day starts as you disembark from your shuttle at the head of the river. Here your guide goes over the basics of your day and reviews rafting lingo and commands, how to paddle, plus safety and PFD requirements. You jump into your raft, and soon you are floating down the river, ready for the adventure of a lifetime. Sometimes you drift along in solitude enjoying the wildlife and serene surroundings.
You may even spy a Moose grazing by the river during your white water rafting voyage. Other times you are paddling through white water rapids and it is guaranteed you are no longer concerned about your stressful week at work.
What’s nice about Maine whitewater rafting outfits is you can decide the level of rafting from easy and beginner, Class I, to more advance with rapids and Class V waters. Much of Maine rafting is dam release controlled, so the level of rafting is determined and closely monitored by the Maine raft guides for your safety and your best enjoyment.
Your rafting lunch is time to get out of the boat, stretch and enjoy a hearty riverside picnic served by your guides, with our raft group. If you are traveling with a larger group, you may fill several rafts but rejoin them at lunch, seeing them along your rafting down the river occasionally. After you are shuttled back to the outfitter center, rafters watch a photo slide show of the day’s rafting trip, and you can purchase raft photos of the experience. Drinks, dinner and a campfire are typically filled with fun conversation about your big day on the white water for those spending the night at the rafting resort.
Class I – Easy, no obstacles, small ripples, slow current
Class II – Moderate, occasional obstacles, medium current with waves
Class III – Difficult, longer rapids with strong, irregular currents
Class IV – Very Difficult, steeper, longer with numerous obstacles
Class V – Extremely Difficult, has large vertical drops, strong hydraulics, very swift, irregular currents in heavily obstructed channels
Class VI – Nearly Impossible and Very Dangerous. For teams of experts only, after close study and with all precautions taken.
White Water Rafting Maine Rivers
The Kennebec River provides 12 miles of white water rafting. The trip begins at Harris Station on Indian Pond and channels through the Kennebec Gorge ending at The Forks (the Dead and Kennebec Rivers confluence). Class II-V Rapids. The Kennebec River emerges from Moosehead Lake and widens out into the Lower Kennebec, the latter favoring beginner level rafters.
The first 2 miles descend from McKay Station through Ripogenus Gorge. The last 12 miles of rapids end at the take out near Pockwockamus Falls. The Penobscot River can claim class III-V Rapids on any given day. The lower part of the Penobscot River and Seboomook River section ranges from class II and III rapids, making a good option for families and youth groups. The more adventurous rafters may choose the gorge section of the Penobscot featuring the Exterminator and Cribworks.
The Dead River offers the longest stretch of continuous whitewater rafting in the East providing intense, non-stop excitement. The 16-mile white water rafting trip begins at Grand Falls and runs through Class IV and V whitewater ending at The Forks white water rafting center.
The Magalloway River
Offers a beautiful stretch of white water in remote Western Maine known for its accessibility to outdoor enthusiasts. When the river is releasing, it is an exhilarating, family friendly adventure on class III rapids. Since the release days are so few, only a handful of people run this river each year. The river itself is fed by Lake Aziscohos, one of a series of scenic Maine lakes. You’ll put in in the middle of a class III and right from the get-go, you’re in rapids. This half-day trip is a great choice for families with younger children or first timers
Known for its wild remoteness, the Rapid River is a secret favorite of fly fishers, adventure seekers and white water enthusiasts all over the country. This hidden gem is a class IV river. The Rapid is exactly what you think of when you imagine an awesome day full of white water rafting – a long thrilling run that winds about three miles through the backwoods of Maine, bringing you breathtaking scenery and lots of class III and IV rapids before dropping guest at the top of the Lake Umbagog National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge is home to bald eagles, osprey, moose and black bear. A run down the Rapid river will certainly provide a unique experience and great memories for you and your group.
White Water Raft Types
Maine offers various types of whitewater excursions, from inflatable rafts, kayaks, riverboards, and tubing.
Inflatable rafts – Whitewater rafts are the most common choice for beginners, first time rafting and those who want a guided raft ride in Maine. White water rafts can seat up to 8 rafters with the river guide at the rear to steer the raft and provide you the best rapid experience as well as a safety. Some outfitters also offer rafts seating two people for more experienced rafters.
Maine Riverboarding – This is a novel form of river rafting in Maine. Riverboarders float on a surfboard specific for river rapids to ride down the river. This activity is solo, so you should be coordinated, and able to swim. Most white water outfitters allow riverboarders to ride sections of river rapids multiple times rather than ride down the river in one long trip.
Kayaking – Many white water outfitters in Maine often offer kayaks or inflatable kayaks (duckying) for rafting trips. Whitewater kayaks are solo or duo trips in tandem kayaks. Most Maine rafting companies offer beginner levels for those with little or no experience on a kayak or rafting, some simple instruction will have you paddling and navigating your kayak in calm to moderate waters.
What to Wear White Water Rafting in Maine
Preparing for a white water rafting trip is easier than you think when you’re rafting with a Maine outfitter, as they provide much of what you need for a rafting trip so you can just enjoy your adventure down the river rapids. Our recommendation is to leave valuable belongings including your cell phone or wallet back at the rafting center or in your car.
There is a strong likelihood you will get wet during your rafting trip – anything that’s not waterproof or irreplaceable is at risk. You can ask your raft guide for a dry bag to keep personal items with you protected from the water, but the safest spot is high and dry out on land, not in the raft.
What you should bring for the rafting trip includes what you’re wearing, and wearing the wrong attire can deter from your rafting experience – that’s how you lose a shoe! Finding a good Maine rafting company and wearing the right clothing will make for a better rafting trip, less concern for your stuff, so you can focus on a fun filled rafting day.
Your Maine rafting guides will provide your life jackets, safety helmets, paddles, towels and lunch, which makes preparing for your rafting trip easier. Your rafting outfitters will often allow you to purchase a waterproof camera or rent extra gear including a wetsuit, waterproof booties and splash tops designed to keep you comfortable. Dressing in layers and being prepared for blazing hot sun to shivering cold water is smart. And your own “dry bag” may prove helpful too.
Recommended Rafting Gear and Items:
- -Straps for eyeglasses or sunglasses
- -Neoprine booties, water shoes, Tevas, tennis shoes or sandals fixed to your feet with hook and loop. Your footwear will but your footware will stay on.
- -Waterproof Camera with wrist strap (used with river is smooth)
- -Waterproof Sunscreen
- -Bathing suit layer (warm weather days only, not likely needed in May or June)
- -Technical fabric clothing that repels or wicks away moisture, and dries quickly
- -Waterproof breathable shell
- -Long sleeve cover up in case you get chilled, and for sun protection
- -Zip off pants that convert to shorts are great.
- -Synthetic fleece or polyester socks and sweaters (for colder days)
- -Wetsuit or Dry Suit (optional in warm weather)
- -Hat – ideally with a tether or strap so it doesn’t fly away with the wind or during a sudden swim.
During the spring and fall, it is advised that you wear warmer clothing including woolen or technical fabric clothing as it resists water absorption. Staying dry, or at the very least drying fast, will help you stay warm during your white water rafting trip.
In the warm summer days, some guys opt to leave their shirts behind or wear long sleeve cotton shirts because cotton retains water well and takes a while to dry; so it keeps you cool and helps protect your skin from UV rays. You may prefer to wear a polyester material however as it wicks away moisture, dries quickly, and doesn’t get heavy and soggy like cotton.
Once you have the right gear for rafting with a certified Maine guide and outfitter, you’re on your way to an adventure you’ll remember in comfort!